Jennifer Balkus

Associate Professor, Epidemiology



PhD Epidemiology, University of Washington, 2012
MPH Epidemiology, University of Washington, 2005
BA Women Studies, Wesleyan University, 2000



Box 357236
Department of Epidemiology
Health Sciences Building, F-261E
Seattle, WA 98195


Dr. Balkus is an infectious disease epidemiologist whose research spans across the fields of sexual and reproductive health with a specific focus on questions that interface between the vaginal microbiome and STI & HIV prevention among both pregnant and non-pregnant people. Dr. Balkus is passionate about improving genital health for all people with a vagina and has contributed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention STD guidelines for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.  She has expertise in conducting both clinical trials and observational studies, in the US and globally, and currently leads two NIH R01-supported research projects. The first is evaluating the relationship between vaginal bacterial and susceptibility to Chlamydia trachomatis infection among a cohort of cisgender women in Kenya. The second project is assessing opportunities to improve STI testing and treatment to reduce STI recurrence among a cohort of cisgender adolescent girls and young women in South Africa. Dr. Balkus is also an Affiliate Investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where she is an investigator with the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) and the Infectious Disease Clinical Research  Consortium (IDCRC). She serves on protocol teams for two ongoing MTN trials that are assessing the safety of the dapivirine vaginal ring in pregnant and postpartum breastfeeding individuals and an upcoming IDCRC trial assessing the SARS-CoV-2 immune response among pregnant individuals who receive different vaccine platforms during pregnancy. In addition to her research, Dr. Balkus teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Public Health and serves as the faculty co-chair or the Department of Epidemiology’s Equity and Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Research Interests

  • Vaginal microbiome
  • STI prevention
  • HIV risk prediction
  • Hormonal contraception
  • Women
  • Africa

Recent Publications (PubMed)

Contraceptive use among cisgender women with bacterial sexually transmitted infections: A cross-sectional study.
(2022 Jun 30)
Blain M, Micks E, Dombrowski J, Balkus JE, Barbee L

A Novel Curriculum Review Process to Initiate the Incorporation of Anti-Racist Principles Into Epidemiology Course Work.
(2022 Jun 11)
Am J Epidemiol
Seiler J, Hajat A, Khosropour CM, Guthrie BL, Balkus JE

Prevalence and Incidence of Sexually Transmitted Infection in Injectable Progestin Contraception Users in South Africa.
(2021 Jul)
Front Reprod Health 3():
Noguchi LM, Marrazzo JM, Richardson B, Hillier SL, Balkus JE, Palanee-Phillips T, Nair G, Panchia R, Piper J, Gomez K, Ramjee G, Chirenje ZM

Diagnosis and Management of Bacterial Vaginosis: Summary of Evidence Reviewed for the 2021 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sexually Transmitted Infections Treatment Guidelines.
(2022 Apr 13)
Clin Infect Dis 74(Suppl_2): S144-S151
Muzny CA, Balkus J, Mitchell C, Sobel JD, Workowski K, Marrazzo J, Schwebke JR

Associations Between Vaginal Bacteria and Bacterial Vaginosis Signs and Symptoms: A Comparative Study of Kenyan and American Women.
Front Cell Infect Microbiol 12(): 801770
Carter KA, Balkus JE, Anzala O, Kimani J, Hoffman NG, Fiedler TL, Mochache V, Fredricks DN, McClelland RS, Srinivasan S

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